This article was spurred by a video I watched promoting the ideas of Karl Marx. The YouTube channel, The School of Life, had a video that shifted the conversation of Marx’s ideas. This prompted me to counter this portrayal of Marx.
I am not speaking to those who think that in practice Karl Marx’s ideas will work. We all know that they have been utterly disastrous. Instead, I am speaking to those who see him as a guide that helps point out the faults in capitalism.
Marx wrote more against capitalism then he wrote in favor of communism, which is the political affiliation that he had as a young man. Marx was not popular in his day and the people of his time were intelligent enough to realize that his ideas did not work.
Today, some believe that his work was the foundation for some of the most important movements in recent history. Unfortunately the movements, Cuba, China, USSR, Venezuela, etc. are all shams. Capitalism, at the time of Marx, was a very young idea. Nevertheless, he identified a number of problems with capitalism, which I am here to analyze.
Workers in a Capitalist Economy Feel Alienated
One of Marx’s gripes with capitalism was the assumption that the modern worker felt alienated. Marx argued that the worker wanted to see themselves in their work and that capitalism made that impossible. However, this is a narrow-minded scope of the economy. For example, I drive a truck and I may see my job as meaningless, but without me making deliveries companies cannot get sugar, pallets, labels, beer, candy, and more. I help provide southern Idaho, northern Utah, and many more places with food, drink, supplies and more. Marx also noted that this alienation made the worker hate their job. For this, I will discuss something that my dad has always told me, “I hate my job. I have hated every job I have had because that’s what it is: a job. However, I love the stuff I get to do because of my job.” My dad hunts, fishes, travels, owns snowmachines (that is a snowmobile for all you non-Alaskans), a house in Mexico, and more. A Job is a means to an end.
The problem is that communists think that everyone has a special place and that no one should be cast out. This basically means that everyone has a right to your property if they need it no matter the reason for them needing it, including any self-inflicted reason. I would argue that everyone’s special place is a term that makes a commie’s skin crawl; specialization. The fact that we are able to specialize in a specific product allows us to generate far more products quicker and at a cheaper price. The real sense of contribution is being proud of what you do, taking pride in your work, and being educated in your field to the point that you become indispensable to the company.
Capitalists Get Richer, While the Workers Gets Poorer
Next big issue that Marx had with capitalism was the fact that workers get paid little and “capitalists” get rich. One thing to note first is that we are all “capitalists.” The idea that Marx was trying to get across was that these business owners shrink wages in order to increase their profits. This is a very basic and childish view of an economy. Owners also have an incentive to increase benefits to workers. As I am typing this, I am sitting in the waiting room of a company who just sent their staff, and families, to Disney Land as a gift to their workers. Still, If this was an issue then the mistreated worker has the availability to go work for someone else. If for whatever reason, they can not find a job that pays them what they want, then the harsh reality is that they simply cannot produce enough to justify that wage. So many want to yell about the minimum wage and how these people cannot support themselves, but only 3.3% of the workforce makes minimum wage.
Owners take on so much risk, and therefore they reap the largest reward. The owners have start-up costs, operational costs, along with other costs, such as hiring specialists to help them decide where the best direction for the company to go. Some commies want to shout about shareholders having influence over a company, and that may sound reasonable on the surface. However, if you invest in a company and finance the debt of a business, then yes, you should have a say in the direction of the company.
Nevertheless, I am sure that some of the Marxists are still yelling that the capitalist’s profit is theft from the workers. Somehow the owners of businesses are stealing the labor from the workers, but this is just crazy. This would constitute force and slavery, but this is certainly not the case. Think about the hiring process for a job. The worker files an application, then they sit through a few interviews. During these interviews the worker’s experience and education are reviewed, the job duties are discussed, the wage is discussed, and the benefits are discussed. What many do not realize is that this is the area for bargaining. Plus there is another quick highlight in there; wage. That means that the worker is being compensated for their time. They are trading hours for dollars at that point, and therefore no force has been enacted. People typically increase their age by moving from company to company after seemingly reaching the ceiling at one company.
At this point, the Marxist has probably shifted the argument to the idea that the theft comes from the capitalist paying the worker one price for his labor, then selling it to another person for a higher price. So the issue here is that under a contractual agreement the owner offered a worker to perform a task for a specified compensation. At that point, the owner has paid the worker for what they have done. This means that the owner owns the result of the worker’s labor because he paid the worker for it. If I hire you to build me a dresser, and then I pay you for it, if I turn around a sell it for a higher price do I owe you money? No. It is basic property rights.
I urge you Marxists to get together and create a completely worker-owned company and carry out your ideas. I mean I am sure that at least thirty of you could pull it off. That is the great thing about living in a capitalist economy, you can freely choose to collectively assemble and do just that.
Still, the argument might continue to profit equals exploitation, but this is ridiculous. Rather, it’s now come to grasping at straws. Profit equals capital, which is the element of an economy that helps create a booming business. For all of you thirty or so Marxists that are going to open a collectively assembled business, you are going to need capital. That capital may come from saving or from borrowing – but you will need capital – which can only morally be collected through a capitalistic, free-market system.
Join me for the next article where we will dismantle more of the points laid out in this video.